Often when I am visiting schools I get asked by teachers to speak to groups of students and tell them about working at Microsoft. What they don't want to know is that I spend a lot of my time with teachers developing some really great projects – they really want to know, 'Have I met Bill Gates?' (No, is the answer) and do I get to see any “cool” stuff. Yes definately. So I have taken time to ‘collect’ some ‘really cool’ examples of things I think teachers and students could use in the classroom. And more often than not they have haven’t seen or heard of them.
The first of these is Tafiti , an educational based search site that is built using Silverlight. So what makes it better than any other search engine? Well, it looks great, but better than that, it has the ability for students to store and share their searches. This solves a lot problems when getting students to justify their research for assignments and projects. And it provides an opportunity to teach some research skills. Check it out – I think it has to be seen to be believed. You will need to install the silverlight plug-in, just as you would for Flash for example.
Now you have Silverlight installed, checkout Popfly. This is a mash up creator - This can support programming in ICT lessons, and there is now a game creator as well.
My all time favourite is OneNote. I used this extensively in school - the best way to describe it is as a piece of smart paper, on which you can write, type, take image clips from anywhere, record sound and record video all on the same page. I think it makes a great whiteboard tool for teachers, but doesn’t need the whiteboard to work. The Innovative Teachers Network has details of how OneNote is being used in other schools. Check out the MSOffice and Learning styles community on the Innovative Teachers Network.
These are just some of the resources, I used as a teacher to enhance the learning of my students. I am constantly finding new things to try, and the Innovative Teachers Network is a great place to see how other teachers are using new technology to support their teaching. Keep a look out for PLEX for Powerpoint.
I've been using another new(ish) Microsoft application called 'Mesh' which is great. Basically you can synch up folders from one PC to another through the web so that you can access information from anywhere while on the go.
Great for teachers as they can work on projects at home and not have to worry about memory sticks etc to transfer data to their school system (or vice versa).
Definitely worth a trial at www.mesh.com